A father and son will be tackling a 24-hour ultra marathon on what is expected to be the hottest day of the year.
Mike and Dean Thompson, of Clayton-le-Woods, will spend Saturday afternoon and all through the night up until midday Sunday pounding a five-mile woodland loop through Bramham Park, Leeds, in the Mizuno 24 North Ultra Marathon, to raise funds for Rosemere Cancer Foundation.
It is an event expected to attract around 3,000 runners. Of these, most will be in relay teams, meaning that after completing a lap, they will have the chance to sit out for in some cases several hours while their team mates take their turn to run the course.
Not so though for Mike, a retired Asda retail assistant, and Dean, a serving Police Community Support Officer. They are part of a band of 200 or so solo runners, who intend to keep on running over the entire 24-hour period during which ankle tags will log their distance covered.
Mike, 67, said: “We have special running vests with pockets so we can drink and eat while running. Some of the things I’ll be packing are bananas, Jaffa Cakes and dates, which is a tip I picked up off Moroccan endurance athletes.
“I take the stones out and make foil packs of them as dates are a great natural energy food.”
Mike, 34, added: “There’s a lot of psychology in an event like this. You have highs and lows. When I hit a low, I just remind myself how lucky I am to be able to be running, especially with my son. It’s a real privilege. I remember why I am doing it – to help people who have cancer – and that gets me back on track.”
Mike and Dean are no strangers to extreme physical challenges. Over the past nine years, they have climbed Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro and Argentina’s Aconcagua and run the Gobi and Atacama Deserts. Dean, who is married to Shannon and dad to one-year-old Lily, has also competed in the infamous Marathon des Sables, a Sahara Desert race billed as the toughest event on earth.
Nearer to home, Mike and Dean have run the 127-mile length of the Leeds to Liverpool Canal non stop, undertaken 16-hour row-a-thons in the foyer of Asda’s Clayton Green store and last year, Mike ran the 62 miles from London to Brighton.
Mike has also signed up to tackle the world’s highest marathon, the Everest Marathon, next year, which involves a 14 day trek to Mount Everest’s base camp where the race begins. While there, he’ll celebrate his 68th birthday.
Like all of their challenges, Mike will use the event to raise money for Rosemere Cancer Foundation via his Just Giving page at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/michael-thompson47
Mike said: “Dean and I are nothing special. Life is about adventures and making memories. When I retired, people asked me if I’d be taking things easier but there’s no way I’m hanging up my running shoes yet. Retirement means I have more time for training for events that will help those who have a proper challenge going on – in some cases, a fight for their lives.”